It's hard to make a better first impression than Andrew Carraway did on Friday night.
Two days after learning he'd be moving up from Double-A Jackson, the 25-year-old left-hander looked anything but overmatched in his debut for the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers.
Carraway took a perfect game into the seventh and ended up allowing one hit and one walk over 7 1/3 innings as the Rainiers blanked the Albuquerque Isotopes, 4-0, at Cheney Stadium.
"There's a bit of nervousness before every start, but there were definitely some added nerves for my first Triple-A outing," said Carraway, who struck out four. "I had no idea how it was going to go, but I heard from a lot of people that know a lot more about baseball than I do that the reason I was here was because I had done things [in Jackson] that they thought would work at this level.
"My pitching coach [Dwight Bernard] talked to me and said, 'Do the exact same thing you've been doing.' So I just kept trying to reassure myself, tell myself, 'Do the same thing, do the same thing.'"
Carraway's bid for perfection ended when Elian Herrera led off the seventh with a single. The 2009 12th-round Draft pick said he was focused less on any personal accomplishments and more with keeping Tacoma in front in what was a 1-0 game.
"I noticed [the perfect game], but it was a really fun game because it was a 1-0 game," the Georgia native said. "There were some noises in the crowd with that first hit that you don't typically hear on a single to center. It registered with me. But since it was such a tight game, you move immediately into, 'OK, what do we do to keep this guy on first from scoring.'"
Carraway earned the callup after going 4-0 with a 2.61 ERA over 38 innings on a Jackson team that's loaded with pitching prospects. He struck out 32 and walked seven in seven starts.
"I put a lot of confidence in [catcher Guillermo] Quiroz and he did a fantastic job of calling pitches tonight. I really put a lot of trust in him," Carraway said. "Whatever he was putting down, I put confidence in that."
The 7 1/3 innings represented Carraway's longest outing of the season, an opportune time to find the right mix of durability and dominance. The University of Virginia product said he was just happy to deliver a quality outing in his first Pacific Coast League game.
"The focus wasn't on anything statistical, just on getting this really tight win here," he explained. "It was a lot of fun to get that good team win in that first outing."
Quiroz did more than just provide Carraway with direction behind the plate. He staked Tacoma to the lead with a solo homer in the fourth, then singled in another run in the eighth.
Oliver Perez worked around two hits and struck out four over the final 1 2/3 innings to earn his first save since 1999 and complete the Rainiers' second shutout of the season.